Jessica Wolfendale – Associate Professor


Ethics of political violence
Moral Psychology
Ethical theory

Research Interests

Academia Profile

My research focuses on military ethics and the ethics and moral psychology of torture, terrorism, and other forms of political violence. My work is characterized by the integration of empirical work in social psychology and sociology with philosophical analysis. What unites my work is an interest in how language, institutional design, and social practices shape moral beliefs, judgments, and actions, particularly in the realm of political violence. I’m also very interested in the relationship between fashion, identity, and morality. I co-edited a book on Fashion: Philosophy for Everyone (Wiley 2011), and I’m currently working on a paper on the idea of provocative dress.
I’m also co-writing a book with Dr. Matthew Talbert, on the topic of whether war crimes result from situational pressures such as battlefield stress, or from the character traits of military personnel, and whether perpetrators of war crimes are morally responsible for their actions.

My future research plans include exploring the implications of this account of war crimes for theories of legal responsibility of war crimes,and for theories regarding the punishment of war crimes. I am particularly interested in the intersection between philosophical theories on responsibility and punishment with real-world institutional practices in these areas.

Courses Offered

I regularly teach Current Moral Problems (PHIL 130), Health Care Ethics (PHIL 331), and Ethical Theory (PHIL 321). I have also taught a Capstone course (PHIL 480) on the topic of torture, terrorism and the state, and a Capstone course on the concept of evil.


Torture and the Military Profession (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2007)

As editor
Forthcoming (with Jeanette Kennett), Fashion and Philosophy (Blackwell, 2010) Forthcoming (with Paolo Tripodi), New Wars and New Soldiers: Military Ethics in the Contemporary World (Ashgate, 2010)

Refereed Journal Articles
The Myth of Torture Lite, Ethics and International Affairs 23(1): 47-61, 2009 Professional Integrity and Disobedience in the Military, Journal of Military Ethics, 8(2): 127-140, 2009
“Performance-enhancing Technologies and Moral Responsibility in the Military, American Journal of Bioethics 8(2): 28-38, 2008
Paternalism, Informed Consent, and the Use of Experimental Drugs in the Military, (co-authored with Steve Clarke), Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 33(4): 337-355, 2008
Terrorism, Security, and the Threat of Counterterrorism, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 30(1): 75-93, 2007

Book Chapters
Preventing Torture in Counterinsurgency and Counterterrorism Operations, Ethics Education for Irregular War, eds Paul Robinson, Nigel de Lee, & Don Carrick (Ashgate, 2009)
Whats the Point of Teaching Ethics in the Military? Ethics Education in the Military, eds Paul Robinson, Nigel de Lee, & Don Carrick (Aldershot, Hampshire, UK: Ashgate, 2008)

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